A Guide to Understanding Network Authentication Methods

Network security is a crucial concern for many organizations and entities due to the sensitivity of the data within the network, attempted hacks, and other activities. Therefore, organizations invest in the best security measures and protocols for network security. One of the best network security protocols is authentication, which helps in user verification before accessing the system.

The types of authentication techniques one uses can vary based on category and other critical factors, such as the degree of network security needed and the sensitivity of the information. The selection process is not more straightforward unless you have the required knowledge about network authentication processes, protocols, and factors.

The following part provides detailed information about the different network authentication methods available.

 

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What is authentication?

 

Authentication, in simple terms, is the ability to confirm and verify whether someone is really what they claim they are. In other words, it is the process of granting access to a system after verifying the user’s identity.

 

Authentication types

 

There are different authentication classifications based on different factors, as discussed here.

 

  1. Knowledge factors

 

This includes the process of users gaining access to a system or verifying themselves based on their knowledge or the things they know. The authentication processes here include the following:

  • Passwords
  • One-time access passcodes (OTPs)
  • Answering security questions
  • Personal identification number.

These methods can be easily implemented and are suitable for system protection; however, one can easily forget a password or security question. Besides, users can fall into the trap of sharing the data; for example, they can share their phone to access the OTP and share the security question answers and their passwords and pins.

 

  1. Possession factor authentication

 

These authentication protocols are based on the things that users have. For instance, you can use the objects to access the network, including key fobs, smart cards, hardware tokens, and mobile devices to scan QR codes.

 

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  1. Inherent factors

 

They allow the user access after verification using the body elements. They include fingerprints, eye scans, voice recognition, facial recognition, and handwritten signatures. Such methods are more secure than other authentication factors since they require biometric factors to access the network.

 

Best authentication methods for networks

 

After understanding the authentication factors, you need to consider the ideal authorization methods for your network. The authentication methods include the following aspects:

 

  1. Passwords

 

Passwords are the most common network access authentication methods. It involves the users inputting their usernames and passwords to access the network. The data is stored in the system to access the information, and any variation will deny access to the website. Most hackers prefer to steal the passwords to access the system instead of tampering with the firewalls; therefore, organizations should be aware of the vulnerabilities and have strong password policies to boost network security.

 

  1. Biometric access

 

This method involves access to a network using biometric factors, such as fingerprints, eye scans, voice recognition, and facial recognition. They are one of the most secure methods as hackers cannot use them to access the network unless aided by the employee. It is ideal as a complementary security protocol.

If used as the only means to access the system, the owner must ensure the palms, eyes, voice, and face remain consistent and do not change. For instance, accessing the subset can be an issue if you lose your finger. Alternatively, organizations can emphasize using two biometric factors, such as a combination of fingerprint and facial and voice recognition.

However, biometric systems are expensive to install as the organization needs reliable systems to guarantee their functionality.

 

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  1. Computer recognition/ Transaction authentication

 

This method involves the system comparing what it knows and what the user provides to identify discrepancies. The most common example is a system that compares the user’s log-in details with their IP address or the location of log-in. The system will deny access if you log in from a different location outside your IP address. It prevents one from impersonating you or a hacker using stolen passwords to access the network.

  1. Multifactor authentication protocols

 

This method involves the use of two access protocols to access the system. For instance, it can sue both password and OTP. It can also include using biometrics and passwords to access the system. Depending on the organization’s protocol, you can use up to three protocols.

  1. Captchas

 

It is one of the most effective methods to neutralize attacks from hackers or prevent bots from accessing the system. It determines whether you are human by asking you to recognize specific numbers, words, and letters and then enter them correctly in the provided space. Depending on the complexity, captchas can also involve calculations.

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Factors to consider when selecting authentication protocols and methods

 

Before you select any network security protocols or methods, you need to consider the following factors.

 

  1. The level of security

 

If you have a system that requires high levels of security, such as the military and classified system, you can use advanced networking authentication by relying on multiple authentication protocols. The protocols should exceed more than three layers of security. Under normal conditions, organizations should use at least two-factor authentication.

 

  1. Nature of the work

 

If employees work remotely, specific measures will be ideal to guarantee secure network access. They include virtual security measures and two-factor authentication. You can rely on biometrics to ensure the employees access the systems and not anyone else who knows their log-in details. Biometrics will deny all the users access except employees.

 

  1. System users

 

The level of security authentication applied for customers and employees should vary. Allow customers to use transactions, biometrics, and passwords. Customers should also use Captchas to prove they are not bots. On the other hand, employees can only rely on passwords if they are accessing the network from the workplace. You can also limit them to certain methods such as OTPs and tokens to back their systems. However, two- or three-factor authentication will be necessary when they work remotely.

 

Conclusion

 

The authentication method you choose should depend on different factors, including the level of security required for the system, system users, and the nature of the employee’s work. However, using two-factor authentication to access the system is usually ideal. You can also make captchas an essential feature for anyone accessing the network. Following these guidelines will help prevent unauthorized access to an organization’s system.

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